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Seanad Éireann debate -
Thursday, 19 Jun 1980

Vol. 94 No. 9

International Development Association (Amendment) Bill, 1980 [Certified Money Bill] : Second Stage (Resumed) and Subsequent Stages.

Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

I do not intend to delay the House very long on this Bill. I have a few comments to make and one or two questions that the Minister might be able to answer which would add to our understanding in relation to this important Bill. I agree with speakers who said that for a small nation like Ireland, even if we are in the top 25 richest countries, aid in kind or personnel aid is probably the way that we can contribute best. I should like to take the opportunity of noting the work done by various agencies who have contributed personnel to do this work. I recently had an opportunity when I was in the international trade centre in Geneva to hear about the work that some of the people in the universities have done in providing consulting aid to developing countries. It is a question of helping them to help themselves, and we have a lot to give there. Clearly there is an advantage in it for us also because when our people go abroad they learn more and get a broader perspective. They make contacts which are good for the country in every way.

I should like to know how much of the funds are actually spent abroad as opposed to staying at home in these various agencies. Would the Minister have any information on that? At the same time, there is a certain amount of unreality when we think of what we can achieve from this or what we can do. Yesterday during the debate on the Finance Bill I was pointing out the amount consumed in the richer countries, for instance, Sweden is in the order of $6,000 compared to something like $2,000 here. I feel that there might be a policy in this regard where the richer countries would have a progressive bite on them as one gets up towards the larger income per capita countries rather than any proportional contribution. We know from the combat poverty committee, although I do not necessarily agree with the figures, that 25 per cent of the people in this country are under the poverty line. While not taking from the fact that we have to deal with the horrific facts Senator Whitaker gave us, at the same time we must recognise that we are small and should optimise our efforts not just in money terms but in helping them to help themselves by helping to train them.

In that regard, the Minister might be able to tell us what the Coalition record was in terms of what they spent. I seem to remember that there was some point about whether money could be carried over from one year to the next. I do not remember in detail what that was about, but maybe the Minister might be able to help us. I welcome the fact that we are continuing to meet our commitments, and I hope that we will continue to do so in line with the fact that we are a very small country.

It is a matter of satisfaction to us as a nation that Ireland joined the International Development Association when it was founded in 1960 but a matter of regret that we did not see fit or were not able to contribute to the first, second or third yearly replenishments. Later we contributed a sum of $4 million. When we joined the EEC we became a Part I member. Perhaps the Minister in his reply would tell us how our percentage of GNP contribution compares with the GNP percentage contributed by other member countries to the International Development Association. It was regretted that we have not been in a position to make a greater contribution. Probably if our economic situation improves we will be in a position to make greater contributions to this very deserving cause because there is not the slightest doubt that it would have the full support of the vast majority of our people, especially those who are well informed about the frightful conditions that prevail in parts of the Third World. The figures given by Senator Whitaker certainly provide food for thought for all of us.

In one part of the world there are millions of people suffering from starvation and in other areas we have wheat being burned, fish being dumped back into the sea, butter mountains being built up, and all this is happening at a time when millions of people are being deprived. For that reason future generation will have very severe comments to make about our behaviour. In conjunction with that if we compare the paltry amount subscribed by the various better off nations towards alleviating distress in the deprived parts of the world to the enormous sums being spent on armament, we are in for a proper bashing from generations to come. As we are a country which is not aligned to any of the great power blocks, we, together with our representatives abroad, should at international level continue to draw attention to the poor performance of mankind regarding assistance on a very paltry scale to deprived people in the Third World. We would fulfil a useful role by drawing the attention of mankind to that situation and not allowing people to forget that Dives and Lazarus are still with us.

I regret that the Minister's opening statement was so brief in that he merely sketched some facts concerning the International Development Association, the method of filling its exchequer and what we do in that regard. I would have hoped that he might have taken the opportunity to tell us in some detail what his views are on the general problem of the poverty of the Third World and how the richer countries should move towards curing or at least alleviating those problems. As contributors to this association we would I presume have a voice within us, a voice which would contribute towards the making of a policy by this association and its implementation.

We have a voice in the EEC and, as other speakers have pointed out, it seems incredible that while the EEC has a surplus which is being dumped in comparatively rich countries, such as the Soviet Union, there are millions dying or suffering from hunger every year.

I regret that the Minister did not take the opportunity along those lines. He might perhaps have indicated to us that the Government have received and are studying the recent Brandt Commission report, the fundamental investigation into what is described as North-South relations, rich-poor relations. This was a high powered commission representative of both North and South and produced a number of extremely interesting recommendations. Its analysis of the problem was also extremely interesting. One might quibble with some of its findings or its approach but, because of the importance of this report, the level of seniority of the members composing it and its direct relevance to the subject that we are debating, I feel the debate somehow lacks in substance when all this field is ignored. It tends to confirm an impression I have concerning us as a nation and as individuals. It is possibly an impression that could be applied to the rest of the European and richer countries. It is that if we pay some money we discharge our obligation, as if by paying the money—to some extent putting the problem of the poor of the world under a carpet—we have salved our consciences. We do not follow up and see how we can contribute towards ensuring that what we give is adequate in the first instance and that how it is spent is most effective.

There is a tendency on the part of the North—I will use the terms of the Brandt Commission—to make its contribution and then forget about the problem and hope it will go away. The sketchiness of the Minister's introductory speech is symptomatic of that tendency of the North to announce that we are paying our money, with a certain amount of self-satisfaction we all feel when we are discharging an obligation, and leaving it at that. But we have an obligation and a duty to go much further.

The Brandt Commission makes a number of very interesting recommendations, but before it does so it indicates the magnitude of the financial help that is required to alleviate the problems of the southern world. It says that to deal with the problem an emergency development programme would be necessary which would cost at least four billion dollars a year in addition to the aid already being given. That is an immense sum but we are aware, peripherally in our minds, that the problem is immense. It only comes home to us in human or emotive terms when our television takes an occasional rest from showing tripe and shows us real pictures of the real Third World. We get a momentary pang of conscience when we see the impassive faces, emaciated bodies and distended stomachs of children condemned to die at an early age from hunger and malnutrition. The consumer world in which we live sweeps in on top of us again, that image disappears and we forget our responsibility.

Governments have an extra responsibility. They have the responsibility to be at all times sensitive to the magnitude of this problem. When a commission of the weight of the Brandt Commission identify that the solution will require an extra annual contribution of four billion dollars, paltry is an inadequate word to describe what is proposed here. Unfortunately, what is not proposed is an attitude or frame of mind to show a realisation of the magnitude of the problem, a query as to how we in our way could initiate, both at home and through our voice in the various international agencies to which we belong, a start on the gathering of this immense sum to try and banish from our television screens the scandalous scenes that I have described.

The Minister has a voice in the EEC as one of the Council's Finance Ministers. I wonder has he ever initiated with his colleagues there a discussion on the Brandt Commission report or suggested to his colleague in foreign affairs that the wealthy countries of Europe might take an initiative in bringing the Brandt Commission report from being a report into actuality. I would be glad to hear from him when he is replying as to whether he thinks he could initiate anything along these lines in any of the international agencies which he attends.

The Brandt Commission warns the Northern countries against any trend towards a policy of protectionism in trade. It points out that for reasons of self-interest alone, any such direction would be detrimental to the countries of the North. It points out that trade on an open basis with the Third World has tended to ease the effects of recession on us. It is estimated that that trade supports 900,000 jobs in the EEC alone. If we did not have that trade with Third World countries, the already large unemployment problem would be larger by 900,000. For reasons of self-interest alone, it would seem that protectionism is something we should avoid acutely.

Undoubtedly there is a trend towards protectionism in the western world in times of recession which very often brings with it balance of payments problems. There is a great temptation to look for the simple solution of shutting down the barrier in the hope that that will cure some of the current economic ills. An extreme example of that is the very substantial body of opinion in Britain that is building up to get out of the EEC and get back into cosy, self-sufficiency. It is a temptation that the western world will be faced with as the recession continues. There is no sign that it will end for quite some time yet. I would be anxious to know from the Minister if he has detected, in his time in foreign councils, any trend towards protectionism either in countries on an individual basis or that it might become corporate policy for the Community. We would like to hear from the Minister that he would regard such trend as undesirable and would use his voice against it.

One other interesting proposal of the Brandt Commission was that to raise some of the finance needed a levy should be imposed on the sale of armaments. According to the Commission's report, these sales amount to the staggering total of $400 billion per annum. A country such as this which is not engaged in the arms trade, which likes to think—erroneously perhaps—that it has a certain moral standing to compensate for its lack of size, might see if we have any such standing and if we could initiate any sort of a policy to persuade the arms-manufacturing countries to pay a levy on the sale of their armaments towards the alleviation of the problems of the poorer sections of the world. It has been estimated by the Brandt Commission that the cost of a ten-year programme for essential food and health needs in developing countries would be less than half of one year's military spending. It seems a small price to pay to banish hunger from this planet.

When one has regard to the fact that the grandfathers of many people in this Chamber would have had first hand knowledge of what famine was like—famine was a reality in this country just over 100 years ago—one would think that the memory of that and the effects it has had on us as a nation would be an inspiration to us to take vigorous action in any international forum to ensure that any spare resources would be directed towards alleviating this great urgent problem. The figures quoted by Senator Whitaker, which have impressed everyone because of their magnitude and the appalling scenes they represent in terms of human grief, should inspire us to do whatever we can and give whatever lead we can towards a move to try to banish famine.

Politicians, notoriously, react to public opinion. It is not a surprise, it is the way the system goes. Public opinion in the area of foreign development, the whole North-South relationship, is complacent, not from any innate complacency but because of lack of knowledge. It needs to be educated as to the urgency of dealing with the problem the world faces and as to the magnitude of it. It needs education in how it has to be tackled. When public opinion becomes sufficiently educated in that way it might then have the effect of impinging sufficiently vigorously on the political mind and, in turn, bring more vigorous political action nationally and internationally.

A lot of work is being done in the education of public opinion throughout the country on the problems in this area. Much of it is being done by the members of the Agency for Personal Service Overseas who are about to go on assignments or who have returned. They can give first hand testimony of the problems they encountered and through the various voluntary organisations, they can bring a heightened public awareness of the problems. It is ironic that they have become more vocal recently than for some time in the past. The inspiration of the cause of them becoming vocal has been the reneging by the Government on the specific promise of the Minister with regard to the proportion of our GNP that would be set aside to assist them. They have gone so far in their current magazine as to quote him:

We commit ourselves to ensuring that irrespective of our budgetary or balance of payments problem, we shall set aside, year after year, the appropriate sum to ensure that we reach at last the target set by the Minister, 0.5 per cent of our GNP within five years.

The Minister said that in February 1975. Having regard to the time at which that speech was made, and having regard to the fact that that speaker now has his hands on the reins of power, and that he and nobody else has it, he does not depend on anyone else to fulfil that commitment and having regard to the fact that he has reneged on it I can only describe that statement in 1975 as a piece of outrageous political opportunism. Ironically, perhaps helpfully in the long run, the outrage of the members of APSO at that reneging has made them vocal in their cause. There might be a good outcome in terms of public awareness of this problem. There might be a good outcome in terms of a rethinking by the Minister, and his colleagues in Government, on their responsibility in this area.

There are many ways in which aid to the Third World can be spent. I do not know that we have sufficiently cleared our minds as to where the priority should be in allocating any funds over which we have control. Quite obviously, the relief of hunger and the elimination of disease must be at the top of the list, to my way of thinking. There is a school of thought that these problems cannot be eliminated until basic underlying problems are removed, problems which have to do with the political and social structures of the countries concerned, problems that have to do with the illiteracy and backwardness of the populations of many of those countries, problems which have to do with the totalitarian nature of the governments of many of those countries, problems which have to do with the lack of human rights as we in the Western world understand them in many of those countries.

That school of thought that these difficulties must be first eliminated is a school of thought that is becoming unduly strong and prevalent. It is very strong in the Irish Commission for Justice and Peace and, consequently, very strong in the Trocaire fund raising campaign. It is a mistaken notion. The problems of famine, hunger and disease are so immediate, so large and horrible in terms of human suffering, that all those others, what I regard as peripheral problem areas, should be left on one side and all the funds should be directed to ease human suffering immediately. It is only when the ambitions of the Brandt Commission report are achieved, and money of the magnitude proposed by that commission is available, that one can then go and tackle the underlying social, political and economic reasons for deprivation.

It is not much consolation to a person dying of starvation in one part of Africa to be told that the Irish bishops have directed out of their fund, Trocaire, £1,075 for the purchase of bicycles for young Christian workers. That is a luxury that the sponsors of Trocaire cannot afford to themselves. If they feel that they can do so the Irish public must be made aware of how the funds they are contributing to those agencies are being spent. I firmly believe that any funds contributed here should go entirely and in the first instance to the relief of hunger and disease. The only agency I see working directly towards that, to the relief of hunger at least, is Gorta and, to a lesser extent, Concern. Some of the medical missionaries are working directly towards the relief of disease but too much of the funds of Trocaire, the largest collecting voluntary agency in the country, go to objects which have to be secondary having regard to the immediacy and magnitude of the problems of hunger and disease. It is only when there can be a concerted international effort in terms of administration and finance to tackle these underlying problems that we can afford to divert money away. All other moneys collected now must, when we consider the magnitude of the problem and the horror of it, go towards relieving human beings from pain and suffering.

I hope the Minister when replying to this desirable Bill will take up some of the points I have touched on and indicate the philosophy of the Government in regard to aid to the Third World generally. Specifically, in relation to the Bill and his introductory speech, I should like to ask him if the conditions for this latest replenishment becoming an actuality has been fulfilled, have the countries contributing 80 per cent of the replenishment formally notified the association that they will pay their allocated amounts? I should like to know when our liability will have to be fulfilled and what financial extent that will amount to.

Notice taken that 12 Members were not present; House counted and 12 Members being present.

I shall deal with a number of specific questions first and then try to take some more of these general issues raised in the course of the debate. Obviously, the specific questions relate to the purpose of the Bill itself and how our commitments under it can be implemented. The general questions are of major importance in the whole context of the North-South dialogue Senator Cooney has been touching on and also the interdependent role of the developed and developing worlds at this stage. Senator Keating and Brugha inquired about the total amount in this replenishment. I indicated, in my opening statement, that the total will be 12 billion dollars. The directors of the International Development Association regard this, in present circumstances, as being a satisfactory outcome to the negotiations between the members of the association on a bilateral basis, in the first instance, the executives of the association and, in a multilateral framework, between each other. That is the answer to the first precise question.

Senator Brugha asked me to name those who are not contributing to this. It is easier to name those who are. Most of the developed countries of the Western world are contributing. I cannot think of any exception, there may be one, but I am not immediately aware of one. From the Eastern European countries—this is significant—only Yugoslavia is contributing though Rumania has indicated its intention to contribute to the sixth replenishment. One might say in that context that not being members of the World Bank group through which this action is taken the Eastern bloc socialist countries are excluded from contributing. That would be to give a very easy let-out to those countries. I share the views of Members who say the response from the Western world generally is inadequate—I will deal with that at greater length later. However inadequate the response from the Western world is, what is crying out shamefully is the lack of any response in this area from the Eastern bloc countries, particularly from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The fact is—the developing countries have noted this themselves and it is a view that was conveyed to me when Minister for Foreign Affairs during the Lome negotiations—that while they see some reason for being actively involved at the liberation stage of the struggle for freedom and independence of these countries and hold some reasons for maintaining a level of influence in those countries, when that has been done there is no real evidence at all, even on a basis that would compare with what is admittedly an inadequate response for the Western world, of any effective continuing aid programmes to the developing countries.

It reminds me of a point made by Senator Cooney that as the Brandt Commission pointed out in the very comprehensive analysis and clear call and demand on the world in this area, the amount of money being spent on armaments dwarfs by comparison the amounts being contributed in this area. As he has indicated, the amount of 400 billion dollars is certainly a stark contrast to the amounts being provided in this area of development co-operation. The amount spent on armaments by the Soviet Union is in very stark contrast with the level of its activities in development co-operation through any of the multilateral organisations or on a bilateral basis. If we are to get a degree of inter-dependence throughout the world perhaps this might be a good area to start. Perhaps it can now be seen, from the relatively wealthy countries, whether one speaks of the Soviet Union, East Germany, Poland or Hungary or any one of them who will be influenced by the decisions of the Soviet Union, that they have a role to play in this whole operation. If the existing structures of the International Development Association do not immediately meet their requirement in that they may see it, for one reason or another, as being dominated by the Western world, simply because it is the Western world by and large that is contributing to it, then it is open to them to make a case for a new structure which would enable them to make contributions which were hitherto all too obviously lacking in this or in any other area. That is the first clear point that emerges from the perusal of the countries that are involved. One is immediately struck not so much by those who are involved but even more by those who are not involved.

In relation to our own contribution, I should like to say that while Senators have welcomed the Bill, Senator Keating said that our contribution over the years was small. That is the level of contribution that was fixed in respect of us in this area. I do not want to make too much of this, but let me say nonetheless for the record that the vice-president of this association called on me recently for the specific reason of thanking Ireland not just for the level of the contribution but rather for the early commitment we gave which was helpful in the course of negotiations to get matching contributions from other countries of our size or association. I was encouraged by that recognition of the role we played in negotiations and pleased to note that.

While I would never overstate what Ireland, as a small country, can achieve, nonetheless neither would I understate the effect or moral impact of our achievements of this sort. When the vice-president indicated this to me it is a measure of the significance of a contribution which is not measured in terms of the money that we apply alone.

This is only part of our official development assistance. In fact, it is somewhat less than 10 per cent. I agree that the whole relationship between the developed and developing countries is now a crucial one. Radical solutions are required to deal with the imbalance that exists, as Senators pointed out. Understandably this morning we were talking of the impact on us of recent developments in the world economies, particularly having regard to the increase in the price of oil. It is nothing compared with the impact it had on developing countries where the whole export earnings in a year in many cases go to paying for the increase in the cost of oil. That, in itself, demonstrates graphically, and tragically, the impact of this latest imbalance on these, the poorer countries.

I agree with all Senators who said that the magnitude of the problems and of developments of that nature are scarcely reflected here, however severe they are in our own conditions. After today's debate, and during the course of the debate on the remainder of the Finance Bill, we can recognise the severity of it in our own conditions, but however severe they are they are but a pale reflection of the impact on other parts of the world, particularly in the developing countries.

I agree in relation to armaments that there is a major issue here. I should like to say to Senator Cooney that not only is that proposal enshrined in the Brandt Commission but, perhaps, he might be more reassured to know that the former Taoiseach, Deputy Lynch, when he addressed the special sessions on disarmament at the United Nations made a proposal exactly in line with that contained in the Brandt Commission in that context. There is no doubt that this is an area in which we have a major role to play. We have had a consistent position in relation to disarmament down the years. Anything that can be done to salvage, for the starving of the world, some of the moneys being stockpiled to inevitably create, either as a threat or a reality, further problems for the poor of the world must be a matter of urgent preoccupation for all of us.

I should like to say some general words in relation to what is being received as a cutback in our aid generally in this area. A number of Senators referred to this. I should like to remind the House that the total amount allocated for official development assistance this year is £16.226 million. In this area I will be trespassing, inevitably, into the area of one of my colleagues, although I am pleased at the same time to put these things on the record. That figure represents an increase of 12 per cent. The figure allocated last year was £13.313 million for official development assistance and this year there is an increase of almost £3 million.

On an issue of this kind it is as well that we do not make political issues but in view of what Senator Cooney said I should like to state that during our days in Opposition he was a member of the Government who made a commitment in 1973 to reach a target of .35 per cent over a number of years. In the first year it fell far short of that target. The total amount for 1974 was £2.7 million. The amount actually allocated in 1975 was £3.45 million, an increase of £.75 million. In the first year we fell behind the commitment given in that year.

It was in that climate that I said that that kind of commitment, given and then reneged on—that word is being used in respect of the Government now but in that year there was clear and significant evidence of reneging in that year—that I said we should fix targets which are outside of the normal budgetary preoccupations. In 1975 the figure was increased to £3.45, in 1976 that became £5.71, an increase of £2.3 million and in 1977 it was £7.3 million, an increase of £1.6 million. From 1976 to 1977 it fell in total terms and was less than the increase from 1975 to 1976. The issues which face the Government today are no different from those which faced the Government of that day. There are two members of that Government sitting in the Opposition benches now. I do not know what exigencies forced them to the conclusions they came to, but there was a real reduction in the extra amount provided. From 1977 onwards things improved dramatically, I am pleased to say. The amount provided in 1978 was £9.638 million, an increase of £2.3 million over the previous year, and in 1979 the amount increased to £13.313 million, an increase of almost £3½ million. In 1980 the increase, as I indicated, will be something short of £3 million.

For that reason it is not quite an issue on which one would want to divide politically. It is a little difficult to accept members of the previous Government and distinguished members of their party, criticising the performance of the Government in this area this year. The percentage of GNP last year was .18 and this year it is .19 or in volume terms an increase of almost £3 million and it is difficult to accept that they can be consistent, either in their criticisms or convinced of the factors of the basis of that criticism, having regard to the experience they themselves had.

Two other things changed the pattern of the allocations in Government of that day and the allocations in Government since we took office. I am not sure if the figures I have given for 1975 and 1976 actually represent what was estimated or what was spent, I know that for each year that Government were in office—I am sure Senators Cooney and Keating are acutely aware of this and, perhaps, acutely embarrassed by it—if the contributions to any of the multilateral organisations were not taken up in a year they were not reallocated to any bilateral aid programme or any other part of the official development assistance programme. That remained the pattern until I was able to persuade my colleagues in Government that the unspent part of the multilateral commitments—even the Leader of the Fine Gael Party acknowledged, as he put it, that I was able to achieve something he had not been able to achieve; I would see it rather as a measure of the Government's position in these areas—be reallocated to ensure that it was applied to other areas.

Funds were not spent or taken up on the multilateral side last year. It might be that funds for something such as this association or the European Regional Development Fund for the Lomé Convention were not spent. However, there were funds hanging over from 1978 that had not been taken up and the Government, instead of taking them back into the Exchequer, rightly and properly, as they had done since 1977, applied them to our bilateral aid programmes as an addition. It is fair to say that the amounts made available last year were not just the amounts I mentioned in the Estimate of £13.313 million but in fact £14.5 million. There was a carry over of £1.2 million which had not been allocated for the purposes for which it was intended. That happened last year.

I should like to make two points in relation to the bilateral programme though it is a matter for the Minister for Foreign Affairs but I understand he has already made a reference to this in the Dáil and, in any event, we have discussed it together. However, what he has said has not received very much publicity so it is important that I should say it here.

First of all, our commitments under the bilateral aid programme will be honoured. There will not be any cutback in the commitments that we have made in any of the areas we are operating in. That is a matter of great significance in view of the work that has been undertaken and the immense development of our bilateral aid programme over the last number of years and particularly over the last two years.

If any of the funds that we are voting now in the multilateral area, whether it be here, through the World Bank Group, through the Food and Agricultural Organisation, through the United Nations Development Programme or through the European Economic Community Development Funds, are not taken up —and from time to time they are not—they will be reallocated to the benefit of our bilateral aid programme. I understand and appreciate the concern of those engaged in bilateral programmes when they see that the growth of the commitments we have in the multilateral framework mean that their allocations on the bilateral side are not growing at the same pace and would seem to be curbed to a certain extent. The contribution they make is a matter of vital importance, and I hope that they will be reassured by what the Minister for Foreign Affairs has already said and by what I am saying now. The commitments will be honoured and any funds that are left over by virtue of not being taken up in a multilateral framework will be reallocated, as has happened over the last few years.

Some points have been made on general issues. Senator Conroy stressed that one cannot generalise about the type of development required in particular countries. That is true. In the very poor countries the International Development Association have found that agricultural and rural development are very important. Their priorities are in the areas of infrastructural development projects particularly. The association makes money available to help support high priority projects which foster economic development in the developing world. The bulk of these projects, over 46½ per cent over the last three years, are in the agricultural and rural development areas. They aim directly at improving the lot of the poorer sections of the populations of the countries involved.

Incidentally, while I was absent for a little while during the course of this debate, I was listening to the contributions over the communications system in the room where I was working at the time, so I heard what was said even though I was not physically present. The balance, 24 per cent, goes to the basic infrastructural projects such as power, telecommunications, transportation; 9½ per cent is for industry and organisation projects; 16½ per cent is for population, water supply, energy and other projects; the balance of non-project loans is 3½ per cent. Senator Conroy said that a major hospital development which would be too sophisticated to manage and administer and staff even in a developed country could be an example of wasteful expenditure. As far as the priorities of this programme are concerned they are based on criteria that Senators themselves would recommend. I would like to repeat the credit terms, the soft loan provisions. There are 50 years to re-pay; ten years before repayment of principal begins, low interest charges and there is an annual service charge of three-quarters of the disbursed portion of each credit to cover the association's administrative costs. So not only is it on appropriately favourable terms but also the targets of the programme are geared towards alleviating the causes of the poverty and suffering as distinct from treating the symptoms of it.

In relation to the Brandt Commission, Senator Cooney might say that I might have made a much more detailed speech. That would not be my function but the function of the Minister for Foreign Affairs. My function as Minister for Finance is to simply describe to the House the purpose of this. Obviously in the course of the debate issues of a broader nature would arise and I am prepared to deal with them on that basis. But I would not like to think that because I did not go into the whole question of imbalances and North-South relationships, the Brandt Commission and matters of that sort which warrant very serious and very detailed study, that is being taken as an indication of a lack of urgency or a lack of interest. It is not. The simple fact is that one introduces a Bill, states what the purpose of the Bill is and then it is a matter for the House to broaden the scope of the debate and they did that.

In relation to the multilateral programmes particularly, the growth of these is significant in terms of our IDA contribution. I welcome this but it is not obvious. We do not see immediately here the visible evidence of Irish participation because it is being contributed through the World Bank Group, the FAO, the EECDF, and the United Nations Development Programme.

We do not see it and therefore we do not seem to be associated with it as directly as with a bilateral aid programme. That is understandable and quite inevitable. But as we involve ourselves more at a multilateral level, either voluntarily or on a mandatory basis, obviously those commitments will grow and grow. In this year particularly they have grown to an unprecedented high level by comparison with our previous commitment. It is that in fact that explains that while the level of our overall commitment certainly has not dropped or been cut in any way—it has increased by almost £3 million—the total figures are such that within that the bilateral growth has not been of the same extent.

I want to put one point on the record in this connection. I was involved as President in office of the EEC in concluding the negotiations of the second stage of Lome which those who were involved with both negotiations indicated were very much more difficult and more complex than the first Lomé negotiations. When one is doing something for the first time it is new and it is welcome. But when one is doing something for the second time it is a little more difficult. People naturally take for granted what they have and want to work through a second stage. But I would like to think that I was able to persuade my partners in the EEC that the level of the commitment was greater than their original disposition was to apply. We spent many late nights in our own environments, that is, as nine foreign Ministers of the EEC, deciding what the level of that commitment would be before we ever negotiated with our Lomé partners, and I am simply pleased that I had the opportunity of bringing it, not as far as I would have wished, but certainly much further than it would have been brought if we had not spent those late nights. As a consequence of that our own contribution has grown significantly. It is important that that should be noted.

Senator Conroy also mentioned that we are not members of the Asian Regional Bank. We are not members of any regional bank. Any decision on joining these, whether it is that or the Latin American Development Bank or whatever, would obviously have to be taken by the Government after full and due consideration of our capacity to meet immediate and continuing commitments and the need to maintain the desirable mix between financing international institutions and our bilateral programmes. I hope that it is clear from what I have said that if we are to involve ourselves further in other banks or other arrangements on a multilateral basis it could well be one of the consequences of these that the pressures on the bilateral programme, if these are mandatory commitments in the other areas, will grow because, in difficult times, there is no point pretending that there is an unlimited amount of money available though obviously one would like to be stretched as far as possible even to the point of pain.

It is a matter for the Minister for Foreign Affairs rather than for me to ensure that our bilateral commitment can be maintained and strengthened rather than stretched into other areas. Having said that about the Asian regions, particularly in relation to Thailand, the Philippines and countries that obviously have problems, I was also involved in negotiating between the Community and the Asian countries the new trade arrangements between them. This is a preferential trade arrangement between the Asian countries and the EEC. It is not an aid programme in the sense of the Lomé Convention. That too has significant consequences for Ireland in terms of access for their exports to the European Community market, some of which are in direct competition with some of the most vulnerable industries in the EEC. It is important for that reason to recognise that the Community is, in a whole range of areas, whether one looks at the Asian countries or Turkey—and we can be called to make contributions there as well—the African group, the Latin American group where negotiations are now going on, or any other areas, at least as active as any other developed part of the world. When the Community make an arrangement then we too make an extra commitment in all of these areas either by way of extra funds or by way of trade concessions. The balance would be rectified if other blocs, both political and economic, showed the same degree of response as the European Economic Community countries are doing.

Senator Mulcahy asked whether our contribution to the International Development Association is tied to purchases of goods here. It is not There is no restriction of that nature and there are no conditions attached to our contributions.

Senator McDonald asked a question about South Africa. He asked particularly what help we could give to the Union of South Africa. I take it he is talking particularly about the black population of South Africa. In all of these areas the most important thing is to be able to ensure that we can work on a government to government basis, that we have the agreement of the government involved to not only allow, but to channel effectively to those who need it the level of aid, the assistance, the medical aid and so on. I have no evidence whatsoever—though I have to say it is not something I can state categorically has been tried—that the Government of the Union of South Africa would be prepared to accept an aid programme from a country such as ours towards the people of the townships of Soweto or any of the regions. They do not choose to acknowledge that those people have needs, and if they do not choose to acknowledge that they have needs I do not suppose that they would accept any aid that we would want to channel to them. But maybe all things are possible. I will convey what Senator McDonald has said to my colleague, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, and see what he has to say in that connection.

I will refer generally to the points Senator Cooney raised. He raised some important points which I did not refer to on opening because it would not be appropriate for me to refer to them on opening as some of these areas are at least appropriate for my colleague the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I said on Second Stage of the Finance Bill that one of the most urgent problems facing the world economies at the moment is to establish a new economic world order, a new monetary stability and programmes that recognise our interdependence. In the whole North-South context so much so obviously requires to be done that one sometimes wonders why it is not being done. There are some areas that need to be activated immediately. Very many more countries must become involved than are at present involved. The OPEC countries, for instance, have very significant dollar surpluses at this stage. They have a role to play that up to this moment they are not playing. It is not too long ago since they themselves featured in the panel of developing countries, and indeed some of the programmes that were voted through here would have been applied to some of the OPEC countries not too long ago.

That pattern has changed now and as far as I can recall one of them that has a significant contribution to make to this programme is Saudi Arabia. I do not see evidence of others who could make contributions figuring in this programme at all. It is of vital importance, either through this programme or through the recycling of the OPEC surpluses that at the various financial agencies, the IMF or the World Bank, we agree at this stage to have a new substitution account, a new arrangement whereby we can guarantee the economic and monetary stability of these developing countries particularly, something that will in turn also guarantee the outlets, if not in the immediate short-term at least in the medium-term, from the developed world. As we, in a sense, have exploited the outlets that exist in the developed world—and the developed world is obviously in recession at this stage—even if we thought only in selfish terms it would be in our interest to encourage and promote the economic capacity of the developing countries who in turn would become consumers of the products that we export. It is obvious then that there is a great need to move towards much greater co-ordination and programming of the structures for the world economy that exist at this moment.

I am impatient and unhappy about what has not been achieved. There has been a trend towards protectionism and it is undesirable. I hope that as we feel the pinch a little more in the western world, we will be activated to respond by taking a lead role—that is what I said on the Finance Bill—both in the European dimension and with our partners at every international forum so as to lay the basis for a more stable world economy. If we do not, while we may suffer, these people to whom this Bill is directed will suffer even more.

It is not appropriate for me to comment on other points like those relating to Gorta and Concern; that is more a matter for the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I would not have shared the view that Senator Cooney expressed. There may be priorities, but the real priority is to help people to help themselves. I know the problem is immediately pressing and urgent when a person is starving; obviously he needs food and medicine. On the other hand the most important thing is to ensure if possible that people will have the means of ensuring that they will not starve tomorrow. Our own bilateral programme has always been in that direction.

Finally, I have replied as widely as I can but decisions here are matters for Government. I have given the Government position as has been stated by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and myself on my own responsibility. It is not a matter for any one man, as Senator Cooney seems to imply. But he was in government and he knows how governments operate and if he says that he shows a very hazy memory of how government operates. To the extent that the contributions of the Minister for Finance are expressed through this Bill this is a step which I am glad that the Senators welcome. I hope that others involved in aid programmes will be reassured by what my colleague, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, has said and by what I have reiterated here this afternoon.

Question put and agreed to.
Agreed to take remaining Stages today.
Bill put through Committee, reported without recommendation, received for final consideration and passed.